Sunday, October 24, 2010

We're Editing!

Hi, Dear Readers! We're reading through our Blog and making minor edits as we think about what to include in one final post of reflections on the trip.

We think that this means followers will get lots of notices of new posts - but there won't be anything new of substance until we do our "Final Post." We hope this doesn't turn out to be a major pain!

We are currently in Ohio for a family funeral, having spent a week in Boston with family.

On Tuesday, 10/26/10, we board Amtrak's Empire Builder Train in Chicago, heading for Portland, OR, where friends will meet us and drive us to the coast to pick up the truck we parked there more than 5 months ago - then we drive back to our home in Richland, WA and life in the real world!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day 158, 10/13/10 - Cornish to Portland, ME

Just the Basics: After 4,390 miles - 39 of them today - we have come to the end of our bike ride across this amazing country. We'll be back with a wrap up later, but for now, Katherine Lee Bates and Samuel Ward said it more eloquently than we ever could (we do have a comment at the end):

America the Beautiful
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

We have been privileged to see the beauty and the effort - and the work still to be done - across a vast cross-sectional slice of this country in a unique and deeply personal way - and hope to see our country fulfill it's great promise. We'll try to do our part. Thanks for sharing this adventure with us!

Today's Pictures: (1) Pouring water from the Atlantic on our front wheels - as we poured water from the Pacific on the rear wheels on May 9th; and (2) We are very happy!

Day 157, 10/12/10 - Conway, NH to Cornish, ME

Just the Basics: 32 rather hilly miles, on a variety of roads - heavily traveled road with and without good shoulders, a back road which had virtually no traffic - but was mostly dirt; and some city streets. Riley got a haircut this morning and we didn't actually leave Conway until 10:30 a.m. or later; we arrived in Cornish before 5 p.m.

The fall colors continue to be breathtaking - the view from our motel room tonight is unbelievable.

We had oatmeal, English muffins and coffee for breakfast in Conway; Shepherd's Pie and coffee for lunch in Freyberg; and baked haddock stuffed with crab and topped with Newburg sauce tonight in Cornish.

Tonight we are at the Midway Country Lodging Motel in Cornish, which is modestly priced and utterly charming, as are our friendly hosts, Ron and Eileen McKinney.

About Those Numbers: Somehow we screwed up the numbering on the posts. We will go back and sort it out later, but a look at the calendar has convinced us that this is Day #157, whatever our earlier numbering may suggest!

Today's Photos: (1) Speaks for Itself; (2) The Seco River near Hiram, ME

Tomorrow: This journey's end! Barring the unexpected, we expect to arrive in Portland, ME some time tomorrow afternoon. We will head for the beach and splash water from the Atlantic onto our front tires, just as we had splashed water from the Pacific onto our rear tires 158 days ago when this journey began. We have wondered how we will feel at that moment - we thought perhaps the day would seem like any other on the ride. Tonight at dinner, however, we looked at each other and started to laugh at the realization that this day had finally almost arrived - we expect it to be pretty emotional.
We will spend Wednesday night at the La Quinta in Portland and Riley's sister Dawn and her husband Ron will pick us up Thursday and take us to Boston - they live there, as do two of our kids and their families.

For Those Who Want More: See you tomorrow.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Days 154-56, 10/9-11/10, Conway, NH

Just the Basics: We are spending the entire Columbus Day Weekend in Conway at the White Deer Motel - a charming modest motel with super-helpful managers, just outside Conway. It is hard to sit here for 3 days knowing that we are only 2 riding days from finishing the trip in Portland, ME, but traffic is a huge problem during this period: (1) Columbus Day is a holiday in NY and almost all the New England States. Schools are closed and families are on the road. (2) The 150th Fryeburg, ME fair is occurring a few miles from here and is heavily attended with resultant traffic jams. (3) We are still in the fall colors season and there are lots of "leaf peepers" on the roads driving out to see the fall colors.

We have, in fact, had a fine time in Conroy - see For Those Who Want More, below.

Today's Photos: (1) Becky at a roadside viewpoint on the Kancamagus Highway (10/8); (2) Riley at Kancamagus Pass (10/8); (3) Rainbow from the Highway (10/8); (4) Librarians Glynis and Lindsey at the wonderful Conroy Library (10/9); and (5) Scene from Boulder Loop Trail (10/10)

Tomorrow: We go about 29 miles to Cornish, ME, where we will stay at the Midway Country Lodging (not a typo!)

For Those Who Want More: Despite having 3! layover days, we are running late and need to get to dinner and then pack for our final 2 days of riding, starting tomorrow. Here are some regrettably brief highlights of our stay in Conway.

The White Deer Motel: The motel is somewhat modest but clean and comfortable and the managing couple are great. Our first 2 nights were spent in a pretty small room but then we were moved to a bigger one which has been a great place for us to sit and work today - we have spent almost all day in our room.

Johnathan's Seafood Restaurant is across the street and the only nearby restaurant - we've had 4 great dinners there - Becky has had haddock 3 different ways - all great - and Riley has had it once; we've both had a stuffed Quahog appetizer - YUM! Riley has had a lobster stew and sole with grapes in addition to the afore-mentioned halibut. Tonight B had clam strips and fries and R had fried sole and a baked potato - their fried items are quite light and non-greasy. The entire staff is very friendly - it feels like home.

Bea's Cafe: Three great breakfasts, so far - only open for breakfast and lunch, down the road from the motel. We've had great oatmeal and Riley has had corned beef hash and eggs - one egg broke as it was slipped onto the plate so they put on a 3rd one to compensate! - and a Belgian waffle with blueberries; Becky has had creamed dried beef on toast and their specialty, Garden Fries - home fries and lots of veggies and bacon, topped with melted cheddar.

The Riverstones Bakery, next door - great fair trade coffee, wonderful pastries, and a tip jar whose contents go to the local domestic violence shelter!

The Conway Library: Saturday morning we slept in, went to breakfast, and headed for a car rental place - we intended to rent a car for the weekend. It wasn't where Google thought it was so we headed back towards town and the library to do some research. It is a great library. There were already half a dozen patrons outside waiting to be let in when it opened at 10 - one of them observed to Becky that you'd think it was the local watering hole! - she replied that folks must be thirsty for knowledge. We later learned from the librarians that the library is very well used - on Thursdays, typically their busiest day, they have 6 staff on duty!

They are supported by town taxes and neighboring towns without libraries provide vouchers to their citizens to purchase non-citizen library cards @$70/year. There are computers, a nice meeting room downstairs, a busy periodicals room, a great children's room with computers reserved for those under 12 and for parents whose kids would be best amused in the children's room while mom or dad is on the computer - very clever!

Glynis and Lindsey, the two librarians on duty were great! It turned out that they were both cyclists (Lindsey and her husband once cycled to Virginia from Portland, ME!). They suggested a route to Portland from here and got out an atlas to copy maps, as well as a number of local tour books, and they called the car rental place in town for us and found that no cars were available.

The 150th Freyburg Fair, Freyburg ME: The Fair was too far from here for us to walk - perhaps 7 miles - but we learned that it would cost $50 to take a cab - traffic was so bad the cabbie would have to inch along for miles starting somewhere within 2 miles of the fair. We compromised - for $25 they took us to where the congestion began and then we walked. Ditto coming home.

Fair Highlights:

Wood & Energy: A whole aisle was devoted to outside-the-house furnaces, which heat the house with either hot water or hot air. Some of these burned chopped wood - 6 cords will heat a large Maine house for a year. One vendor said that a 10 acre wood lot would supply a house indefinitely, harvesting one acre each year. Many of the furnaces used wood pellets, made from excess wood cuttings at lumber yards. A vendor quoted an estimate that 50,000 houses can be heated annually with these without exhausting this wood supply in Maine. (Bags of wood pellets are to be found on sale at many stores we have seen). Other heaters burned used motor oil.

Animals: Draft horses, cattle, oxen, donkeys, goats, pigs, sheep, poultry, rabbits, and 4-H animals - we saw 3 draft horses being led into the barn and they were HUGE!

Arts, Homemaking and Crafts: All the usual delights were there: Baking; jams and jellies (including both rhubarb jam and rhubarb jelly); pickles and relishes; preserved veggies; quilts, knitting, crocheting and sewing; photography; carpentry and so on.

New to us was a Christmas tree judging - not decorated trees, just trees; this is Maine, after all! Ditto a very clear wreath-making demonstration by a woman whose family owns a Christmas tree farm and whose family makes and sells 300 wreaths a year. With classic New England frugality, she took apart a wreath made in a previous demonstration and salvaged almost enough greens from it to make the wreath she was demonstrating for us! She had also rewound bits of wire back onto the spool and succeeded in re-using some of those - although it got tricky enough that she ended up cutting some of the bits off and continuing with new wire!

There were numerous crafters spinning (various methods), weaving, dyeing and doing various forms of needlework - and a place making cotton candy out of maple sugar!

Performers: We enjoyed the Fryeberg Fair Boys in something like their 29th year at the Fair - a vocalist and a pianist were being featured in a performance of rock and country numbers, both originals and covers - they were good.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 153, 10/8/10 - North Woodstock to Conway, NH

Just the Basics: 39 miles and a 2000 foot climb up and over Kancamagus Pass in the White Mountains. Now we are at the White Deer Motel in Conway, very near the Maine border. We will be here 3 days and 4 nights, due to holiday weekend traffic - we will not resume our trip until Tuesday - and then will have only 2 days to go! Since we are staying put we may not blog every day.

We pretty much climbed steadily from North Woodstock to the Pass, over about 15 miles. The climb itself was easier than we expected - the only times we ended up walking were not due to trouble biking, but, rather, to traffic and road conditions - for example, we'd get off our bikes when there was a lot of traffic and then be unable to start up again because we were in very low gears, there was NO shoulder, and we didn't have a good view of the road in order to determine when it was safe to start.

Coming down was initially very challenging - the first 4 miles there was a 7% grade, NO shoulder, some rough pavement, and lots of cars. After that it was not so bad and practically down all the way to Conway! It sprinkled most of the last 2-3 hours of the trip but our biking clothes are light weight and dry quickly moving through the air, even as they continue to get wet again. We were beginning to feel sort of damp and chilly by the end of the ride - but then we got to our motel and hot showers.

A few highlights:
  • We biked all day in GORGEOUS country -which only got better as the day wore on.
  • The fall colors got better as we came down from the pass;
  • There were quite a few Forest Service campgrounds, picnic areas and scenic waysides with vault toilets.
  • We had 2-3 miles of bike path coming out of Lincoln, which was nice.
  • About 5 of the last 8 miles into Conway were on a very lightly traveled back road with a lovely covered bridge, some campgrounds, and lots of cabin-type homes.
  • We saw another lovely rainbow.

Today's Photos: We'll post 'em tomorrow!

Tomorrow: Staying put in Conway through Monday, 10/11, to escape holiday traffic.

For Those Who Want More: Nothing more tonight!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Day 152, 10/7/10 - North Woodstock, NH

Just the Basics: Note late in the afternoon on 10/7: We went for a walk and added some pictures Riley took en route. Enjoy!

It is sort of amazing to be typing "Day 150" this morning! In some ways the trip has gone so quickly - although it also sometimes feels as though the trip is all there is - a special, unique world unto itself. It is hard to believe that we have only about 100 miles to go to Portland, Maine and the end of this adventure.

That said, the adventure will actually continue for a full week! We are taking a layover day today, mainly because of rain, but also because we didn't want to do 2 big climbs in a row - yesterday was 1650 feet or so and tomorrow will be 2000, which is, we think, the second biggest climb we've ever made in a day - and the longest loaded with gear. We will be going up NH 112 - also known as Kancamagus Highway - to 2855 foot Kancamagus Pass, starting at about 800 feet, then descending to Conway, NH.

We will then be less than 75 miles from Portland, ME, but, unfortunately, will be faced with: (1) The 3-day Columbus Day Weekend (a state holiday pretty much throughout New England and NY); (2) Fall colors travel; and (3) The 150 year old Fryeburg Fair along our route. Yesterday Riley talked with bike shop folks in Conway, Naples and Portland and became convinced that we shouldn't even think about riding again until after the holiday.

We are a bit disappointed - it is hard to be so close and not just go ahead and finish, and a weekend arrival might have meant that our Boston families (2 of our kids and their families and one of Riley's sisters and her husband) could have come to celebrate the finish with us - at the same time, we don't want to take big safety risks. So - we'll spend 4 nights and 3 days in Conway, not going on until Tuesday, 10/12, with our finish planned for Wednesday, 10/13!

Today's Photos: (1) The Woodstock Inn's Riverview Building as seen from the back - we're on the 3rd floor in the front; our bikes are parked on the porch at the lowest level (bottom balcony left, which is a floor below the "1st" floor - it's only 1st on the front side of the Inn); (2) A double rainbow from the bridge across the Lost River to Lincoln, NH; and (3) A view of the Lost River

Tomorrow: As you've read, up the mountain and down again to Conway, a 36 mile day.

For Those Who Want More:

Recent Meals:
Lunch Yesterday at the Station House here at the Woodstock Inn: B: Meatloaf sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy on homemade bread and oatmeal stout from the Inn's brewpub; R: Station House Chili in a bread bowl and coffee.

Dinner Yesterday at the Station House: We started off with Manhattans. R: Chicken Salad Overstuffed Tomato - the chicken salad was made much like we make ours, with apples, chutney and walnuts; there was also a side green salad; B: Longhaul Salad - greens and spinach, turkey, egg, sun dried tomatoes, cucumber, olives, grilled mushrooms and feta. We also shared a glass of chardonnay and their signature dessert: a banana baked in puff pastry and topped with ice cream, caramel sauce, strawberry sauce and whipped cream. YUM!!

Brunch Today in the Inn's Dining Room: It took us forever just to read the menu and think happily about our choices. All breakfasts included homemade sticky buns, home fries, coffee and juice - we had grapefruit juice, which we love and haven't seen on a menu forever. R: An omelet with Fuji apples, onions, brie and walnuts; B: Eggs Benedict with lox. There was also a basket of toast from their homemade breads - white, whole grain and raisin. We won't need lunch!

How We're Spending Our Day:

  • Sleeping in;
  • Reading the New york Times and the Boston Globe;
  • Doing some financial stuff;
  • Blogging and writing postcards;
  • Catching up with emails; and
  • Reading - Riley has downloaded a volume of Robert Frost to our Kindle, in honor of New England.

We plan to go spend some time at the local library - which is open until 9!!! - when the rain lets up, and will have an early dinner so that we can be on schedule for an early departure tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Day 151, 10/6/10 - North Haverhill to North Woodstock, NH

Just the Basics: 22 miles. We had to do about 1600+ feet of climbing today and it rained enough that we eventually had to put on rain gear. Once again - an incredibly beautiful day. We climbed most of the day and it was gray and a bit sprinkley all day, but also beautiful. We cycled mainly in farmland and mixed forest with some streams and a little lake alongside. Once we passed a farm with shaggy brown, big-horned cattle like the Highland cattle we once saw on a bike trip in Scotland.

We started the day with a wonderful breakfast at the Hayloft B & B outside North Haverhill - perfectly cooked bacon and scrambled eggs, homemade maple oatmeal scones, fruit cups, OJ and coffee - YUM! We enjoyed further visiting with our hosts Joyce and Ann, and with fellow guests David and Jane. Jane is a teacher specializing in work with students with sensory problems - for example, vision impairments - and David is a tech guy. Jane also paints and they have an oral history collection business.

We left by 8:30 and arrived in North Woodstock before 2, having pretty much biked steadily all day. We stopped at the Lost River Valley Campground about 3 miles short of North Woodstock - the camp store was open, but, in fact, owners Jim and Deborah were in the process of closing down for the season. So - we didn't have the hoped-for lunch break but they gave us the rest of their coffee and we bought a couple of TWIX bars (they had already done their final inventory but sold them to us anyway) and spent perhaps half an hour chatting about our ride, and their work as campground owners and hosts - see their photo in Today's Photos.

We are tucked into the Woodstock Inn B & B for tonight and tomorrow. We had both lunch and dinner at their Station House cafe and have also done laundry, written 10 postcards, and worked hard on planning for the final days of this great adventure - details to follow tomorrow!

Today's Photos: (1) We reached the top of today's BIG climb feeling sort of surprised that it wasn't worse and that it was over. We were especially surprised to learn that our last 2 miles - which we rode, no walking - had been a 9% grade! and (2) Jim and Deborah, owners and hosts of the Lost River Valley Campground.

Tomorrow: Layover day here at the Woodstock Inn in North Woodstock - we can use a rest before the big climb on Friday, and some rain is likely tomorrow, as well.

For Those Who Want More: It's bedtime - see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day 150, 10/5/10 - Lyme to North Haverhill, NH

Just the Basics: 26 miles with about 500 feet of climbing. We didn't start until noon - we spent the morning on the Internet and using our satellite phone - we were working on lodging for the next few days. It is the last week or so of the fall color season and there is a 3-day weekend coming up so we are really struggling with planning. We are already having trouble finding lodging - and places are typically charging seasonal rates (but not the great B & B where we're staying tonight), and we have some concerns about safety if we bike on a three day weekend - so lots of time, thought and effort are going into plans for what will be our last few days on the road!!!

Today's ride was fantastic. Much of the time we were in or above the Connecticut River Valley and the views have been nothing but gorgeous. The sky was blue with fluffy white clouds, and much of the time we rode on a high ridge looking way down into the valley on one side, with the hills of Vermont rising on the other side of the river.

We cycled through lovely villages and past farm after farm of the sort you see in children's books - large gardens, fields of corn and pumpkins, cows and horses in pastures, a produce or cider stand out front - almost a farm Disneyland! Farms sell organic eggs, fruit, vegetables and cider, free range chickens, "naturally raised" beef, pork and lamb - and pumpkins!

Meals: Breakfast this morning was at the Dowd's Inn B & B in Lyme - our hostess Tammy served up wonderful cinnamon apple pancakes, bacon, and fruit and coffee. She also helped us work on the search for lodging.

We lunched at a gas station deli on Bulkies (see below) - pastrami for Riley and roast turkey for Becky, plus coffee. We had a picnic dinner at our B & B: Individual bottles of Barefoot Merlot and some Low-Fat Chex Mix, purchased at the gas station where we had lunch; Wheat Thins from the store here in North Haverhill; and Vermont cheddar with sage, and a lovely, big Macoun apple - sweet and crisp. The apple was a gift from the Indian Corn Mill farm stand where we stopped for fresh cider and donuts late in the afternoon. They sold apples in bags of 1/2 peck and a peck, but had no way to sell just a couple of apples - so they just gave them to us! We also bought the cheese from them.

Tonight we're at a lovely B & B, the Hayloft Inn, about 1 1/2 miles outside North Haverhill (and up quite a hill). Our hosts Ann and Joyce are retired teachers from Concord, NH - but both of them grew up in this area. The setting couldn't be lovelier nor the welcome warmer. There's no restaurant in town so they warned us to bring our own dinner and then invited us to join them at the dining table with our picnic while they had their dinner. We chatted about our trip and their experiences planning, building, and operating a B & B.

Today's Photos: (1) A covered bridge on River Road along the Connecticut River between Lyme and Orford; (2) Art shot; (3) Example of a frequent sight in this area of small, diverse farms; (4) Enjoying fresh cider and donuts at the Indian Corn Mill apple stand outside North Haverhill.

Tomorrow: We bike about 25 miles to North Woodstock, NH, with a total expected climb of 1800 feet. It is also likely to rain part of the day. Yikes! We will stay at the Woodstock Inn and expect to take a layover day there on Thursday, before tackling the dreaded, steep 2000 foot climb over Kancamagus Pass - 34+ miles, with NO places to stop for restrooms, snacks or meals. DOUBLE YIKES!

For Those Who Want More:

Vocabulary Development: We have been eating quite a few "Bulkies" - sandwiches made on a round roll and typically costing $1 less than the same sandwich made as a sub or grinder. Bulky rolls are usually white or wheat, but at one memorable stop they also had rye and oatmeal Bulkies.

The young man who made our roast beef Bulkies at that store also said "Ayup," in response to a query from Becky, to her delight! You read that people in VT say that, but that's the first time we realized we actually heard someone do so!

Milkweed Report: Almost since we began this 5 month ride we have been watching milkweed grow - and the Monarch butterflies that depend on it as the place to lay their eggs. In the last couple of weeks we have seen a milkweed pod here and there releasing its seeds with their gossamer parachutes, but starting today we see whole patches of them opening up with the seeds spilling out. = ) = )

Monday, October 4, 2010

Day 149, 10/4/10 - Bethel, VT to Lyme, NH

Just the Basics: We are in New Hampshire tonight - State Number 15 for us this trip! We biked 32 miles and climbed about 1600 feet - lots of steep ups and one place with a 13% downgrade! Today was sort of gray but we were still surrounded by lovely scenery. Fall colors everywhere, more farms and tiny villages with their white church steeples and village greens and little general stores, more rivers and streams, and one lovely pond - see Today's Photos.

Tonight we are in Dowd's Country Inn in Lyme, NH - about 20 miles from Hanover, where Dartmouth College is located. The main section of the Inn was built in the 1780s as a private home. Our room is called Marshland and is painted the palest of sage greens, with a pink, cream and pale green handmade quilt on the bed.

We had a wonderful dinner at Stella's Italian Kitchen and Market just two doors up the road from the inn. Last night we had gas station cheeseburgers, a beer and ice cream in our room (no restaurants open in town), so tonight you can imagine our delight with the following menu: Glasses of Switchback Beer - a New England Medium Ale; a shared spinach salad with cranberries, walnuts, onions and Gorgonzola; a shared glass of chardonnay; pumpkin ravioli with honey crisp apples in a cider and browned butter sauce, topped with fine shreds of potato crisps (Becky) and chicken portabello with squash and red potatoes (Riley). We finished with decaf coffee and a shared bread pudding with cinnamon ice and caramel sauce. Mmmmmmm . . . .

Today's Photos: (1) A fine example of the stone walls we see everywhere; and (2) A particularly fine pond.

Tomorrow: We intend to go only about 22 miles, to North Haverhill, NH (dipping briefly back into VT as we go), BUT we do not yet have lodging there so you may see something else when we finish our day tomorrow! If things go as planned, this should be a fairly easy day, compared to the last two which definitely were not easy!

For Those Who Want More: That's it! Last night the church across the street from our B & B rang its bells every hour all night - 9 times, then 10, then 11, etc. There was also quite a bit of traffic. Although we were both beat after a hard ride, we were both still awake to hear them ring 11 times and Becky heard them again at 5 - and every hour thereafter. Riley heard them at 12, and then again every hour starting at 4 - so we are more than ready for a good night's sleep!

Day 148, 10/3/10 - Ripton to Bethel, VT

Just the Basics: Amended NOTE, 10/4/10: We did not have Internet access last night (10/3/10), which we spent in Bethel, VT, after 34(?) lovely HILLY miles. Our day began with a fierce climb, followed by a ferocious descent.

We especially enjoyed many views of Vermont's crystal-clear streams and rivers tumbling over the jumbled rocky creek beds of the Green Mountains. We spent Monday night at a nice B and B in Bethel, VT.

Today we have lots more hills and will probably go as far as Orford, VT. Right now we are sitting in a bandstand in a lovely little park in Royalton, working on planning for the next few days - we heard in town this morning that it may rain on Wednesday and that's the first piece of information we're checking on!

Today's Photos: (1) The Chipman Inn, where we started our day, having spent Saturday night there; (2) Seen En Route - Speaks for Itself; (3) As we bike in this area we see countless dump trucks hauling sand being stockpiled by village road departments for use this winter! (4) 12% grade going down; and (5) Triumphant Becky after the 12% descent - she is less fond of steep downs than of steep ups!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Day 147, 10/2/10 - Ticonderoga, NY to Ripton, VT

Just the Basics: After two days of rain and weeks of overcast days that have muted the fall colors we've been seeing - today dawned crystal clear! We crossed by ferry from Ticonderoga New York into spectacular Vermont scenery, vividly sunlit. Beautiful hills and valleys, distant mountains in almost all directions, black and white cows, apple orchards, cider and maple syrup stands, the works! We rode 31 extremely hilly miles - definitely some challenging riding.

Our Adventure Cycling Route Map offered an alternate route which took us around Middlebury instead of through it. Although Middlebury is supposed to be very pretty, we had also heard that in addition to having fall color tourists on a Saturday, there was a lot of road construction going on, so we elected the alternate. There was supposed to be a 1.7 mile section which was gravel, but it had just been paved - Yay! The route was lovely - well paved and very lightly traveled. We rode through a swamp and over a covered bridge and past farm after farm - it was wonderful.

Tonight we're comfortably settled in to the Chipman Inn in the tiny town of Ripton, VT. It's far from any restaurant, but our hosts were perfectly willing to have us picnic in our room so we have planned another cheese, crackers, apples and wine dinner for ourselves. Bill and Sharon, our hosts, kindly provided wine glasses, plates and silver, which make it feel very special.

Today's Photos: (1) Speaks for itself; (2) A Roadside Scene; (3) A Covered Bridge in Vermont; (4) Roadside View

Tomorrow: 34 miles to Bethel, VT (not ME), where we will stay at the Nestled Inn! We expect a fierce climb right out the door and then just some ups and downs - although there may be a fierce down after the fierce ascent. This Adventure Cycling map - the last for our trip - has a route elevation schematic, the first we have seen since the maps that got us through the Rockies! There's a fair amount of climbing between here and the end of the route. Yikes!

For Those Who Want More: That's it for today!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Day 146, 10/01/10 - Ticonderoga, NY

Just the Basics: This is our second layover day in Ticonderoga - thanks to Tropical Storm Nicole we had rain most of the night and most of today so far - it's about 12:15 as this is being typed.

We've made pretty good use of our time while we're here, but are very anxious to get back on the road.

We've meant to mention the rather unique Super 8 where we're staying. It's designed in a rustic style. It looks like a log structure on the outside and our room has: One pretty wood-paneled wall, two nice Adirondack pictures, and knotty pine wooden furniture which looks like the kind you might find in a little cabin somewhere in the Adirondacks! According to motel staff there is at least one other Super 8 in this area built in this style.

With two full days off, we've been doing lots of trip planning. As we close in on Portland, Maine, we are trying to coordinate our arrival so that some or all of our Boston family members can come to meet us if they like - which, with all the kids in school pretty much requires a weekend arrival. If things go well, we should arrive on the morning of Columbus Day.

Today's Photo: A maple (?) tree in a Ticonderoga front yard, taken yesterday.

Tomorrow: We go about 31 miles to Ripton, Vermont - our 14th state! We will be staying at the Chipman Inn B & B. There are no restaurants near there (unless you're travelling by car), so we have permission to eat dinner in our room if necessary - likely crackers, cheese, fruit and wine. If the timing works out we might have "dinner" at East Middlebury, about 7 miles before we get there - but there are actually not supposed to be any restaurants in East Middlebury either (or anywhere else on tomorrow's ride!) so "eating out" would be eating something at a gas station/convenience store in any event!

For Those Who Want More:
Researching lodging. The fall colors season is in full swing and that makes being assured of lodging trickier. All things being equal, we prefer not to make reservations for more than a couple of days ahead - changes in weather or bike troubles are harder to adapt to if we are tied to reservations which we can't easily change. Right now we've made reservations for Saturday and Sunday but we're still not sure how much further ahead we'll make reservations. We plan to call some places today and ask how likely they are to fill before making decisions.

Eating: Surprisingly, the motel room lacks a fridge and microwave - although you can use the microwave in the breakfast area and rent a fridge. Super 8 has minimalist breakfasts but that's what we had yesterday. Lunch was peanut butter sandwiches, an apple, cookies and tea in our room and will be about the same today (we carry all of those food items all the time).

The 1st night we ate dinner at an OK restaurant nearby. The 2nd night we ate in our room: NY extra sharp cheddar, Wheat Thins, fresh pears, and a bottle of Turning Leaf CA Merlot - Yum! This morning we split a toasted and buttered motel bagel and a motel English muffin and ate the rest of our cheese and had motel juice and coffee and, in Riley's case, motel corn flakes. Tonight we'll try a different restaurant. There is a coffee pot in our room and we carry tea and Starbucks instant caf and decaf, so have those available, as well.

BTW: We are also carrying dish detergent, 2 sets of Titanium super-lightweight silverware, two metal camping plates, Riley's pocket knife, and paper towels, so eating and clean-up in the room can be pretty comfortable - in fact, this motel has only tiny paper plates in the breakfast room so this morning we took our own plates to breakfast!

Making Good Use of Time: We are trying to make good use of our layover time - here's what we've been up to in addition to the planning referenced above:
  • Lots of catching up on email;
  • Some phone calls;
  • A walk into town to pick up our 3rd General Delivery mail - our friend Barb sent back the cold weather clothes we mailed to her in August to lighten our loads;
  • Shopping for groceries and sundries;
  • Getting flu shots from a very cheery nurse at WalMart - which seems to be the only big store in town . . . .
  • Walking to a near-by gas station for papers - we are treating ourselves to both a local paper and a New York Times every day of late;
  • Reading the paper - and Riley is busily compiling a little notebook of clippings of facts about various items of interest from the Times - for example, a report on TARP and one on the distribution of government expenditures and how it has changed over the years as a percentage of GNP;
  • Sadly - not doing laundry; the motel doesn't have a guest laundry (more common than not and a real problem for us, as we carry little clothing);
  • You get the idea!